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What Is Vignetting In Photography? 

Have you ever taken a photo and noticed that the edges were darker than the center? This is called vignetting, and it can be either intentional or unintentional. In this article, we’ll explore what vignetting is, how to create a vignette effect in your photos, and how to remove vignetting if necessary. We’ll also take a look at when vignetting can be most effective and discuss some tips for using it artistically.

Vignetting In Photography: A Definition

Vignetting is the darkening of the edges of a photo. This can happen naturally when taking a picture, or it can be added in afterwards as an editing effect.

What Causes Vignetting In Photos?

Vignetting can be caused by several factors, including using a low-quality lens, shooting in low light conditions, or placing a filter on your camera lens. It can also be caused by using a wide-angle lens, or by taking a picture with a very wide aperture. If you’re not sure what vignetting looks like, take a look at the example below.

As you can see, the corners of the photo are darker than the rest of the image. This is an example of vignetting.

Different Types Of Vignette

There are several different types of vignette, which we’ll cover below:

Optical Vignette

Vignettes occur naturally when you use certain types of lenses, and they show up more often when you have a large aperture or barrel. When light enters the camera, it can be blocked by the barrel and wide-angle lenses – which means it takes longer for light to travel from the edge of the lens to center. This makes everything look duller.

Pixel Vignette

The flat sensor in the camera is to blame. This sensor is flat, so while most of the light that enters the lens hits it head-on, light from the edges of these photos frequently strikes the outside portion of these sensors at an angle. This might cause areas along with images near them to appear darker.

Mechanical Vignette

Vignettes can often be due to an incorrect lens or filter. The majority of lenses with large hoods are made to reduce vignettes. Although, they can still occur if you don’t pick the right one for your shot because not all of the light will hit the sensor evenly. Additionally, mechanical vignettes may form when you use filters that aren’t correctly sized for either your camera or lens.

Artificial Vignette

Intentional vignettes are created either by the camera’s lenses, filters and effects or through editing. These types of vignettes offer the most control.

When To Use Vignettes In Photos

Intentionally adding a vignette to your photos is a great way to capture the eye of a viewer in the following ways:

Drawing Attention To The Subject

If you want to make sure the viewer’s eye is drawn to the subject of your photo, adding a vignette can help. By darkening the edges, you’re essentially framing your subject and making it the star of the show.

Creating A Sense Of Mood

Vignettes can also be used to set the mood of a photo. If you want to create a feeling of mystery or suspense, for example, adding a vignette can help. On the other hand, if you’re going for something more light-hearted and fun, you might want to avoid vignetting altogether.

Reducing Distracting Lines And Details

If there are elements in your photo that you want to downplay or get rid of altogether, vignetting can help. By darkening the edges, you can reduce the visibility of these distractions and make them less noticeable.

Vintage Effects

Vignettes were once a common occurrence in photography, especially when using film cameras. If you’re going for a vintage look, adding a vignette can help give your photo an aged feel.

When To Avoid Vignettes In Photos

While vignettes can be a great effect to add to your photos, there are several instances where you may want to avoid them:

Landscape Photos

In general, vignettes are best avoided in landscape photos. This is because vignettes can make the photo feel unbalanced and can take away from the beauty of the scene.

Group Photos

If you’re taking a group photo, vignetting can often make people on the outskirts of the photo appear disconnected from the rest of the subjects. This can be distracting and take away from the overall impact of the shot.

Action Shots

Vignetting can also be a problem in action shots, as it can make it difficult to see what’s going on at the edges of the frame. If there’s a lot happening in your photo, it’s best to avoid vignetting so that none of the details are lost.

Multiple Subjects

If your photo has multiple subjects, vignetting can often make it appear as though one subject is more important than the others. This can be distracting and take away from the impact of the shot.

When They’re Created Unintentionally

There are several reasons why vignettes might be created unintentionally:

  • Lens vignetting: This is usually caused by using a lens with a wide aperture. The wider the aperture, the greater the chance of vignetting.
  • Filter vignetting: This can be caused by using filters that are too small for your camera or lens.
  • Camera vignetting: This is usually caused by using a camera with a small sensor. The smaller the sensor, the greater the chance of vignetting.

How To Create Vignettes In Photos

Now that we’ve covered when to use (or not use) vignettes, let’s explore how to intentionally create them in your photos:

Lenses With Large Barrels

One of the easiest ways to create vignettes is to use a lens with a large barrel. The larger the barrel, the greater the chance of vignetting.

Camera Settings

There are several camera settings that can be used to create vignettes, including:

  • Aperture: The aperture is the opening in the lens through which light enters the camera. The wider the aperture, the greater the chance of vignetting.
  • Shutter speed: The shutter speed is the amount of time that the shutter is open. The longer the shutter is open, the greater the chance of vignetting.
  • ISO: The ISO is the sensitivity of the sensor to light. The higher the ISO, the greater the chance of vignetting.
  • White balance: The white balance is used to adjust the colors in your photo. The warmer the white balance, the greater the chance of vignetting.

Lens Hoods

Another way to create vignettes is to use a lens hood. The hood blocks the light from entering the lens, which can result in vignetting.

Lens Filters

You can also create vignettes by using lens filters. There are several types of filters that can cause vignetting, including:

  • Neutral density filters: These are used to reduce the amount of light entering the camera. They can be used to create vignettes by reducing the amount of light hitting the edges of the frame.
  • Graduated neutral density filters: These are used to darken specific areas of the frame. They can be used to create vignettes by darkening the edges of the frame.
  • Polarizing filters: These are used to reduce glare and reflections. They can also be used to create vignettes by reducing the amount of light hitting the edges of the frame.
  • UV filters: These are used to protect your camera lens from scratches and damage. They can also be used to create vignettes by reducing the amount of light hitting the edges of the frame.

Photo Editing Software

If you didn’t get the vignette effect that you wanted while taking the photo, you can always add it in post-processing. This can be done with most photo editing software, including Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

In Adobe, go to the Develop module and then under Lens Correction, you can add add or adjust vignettes using:

  • Amount: This will make your vignette darker or lighter
  • Midpoint: Clicking midpoint will either center or widen the effect of the vignette
  • Post-Crop: This setting will ensure that vignettes aren’t being added to areas that have been cropped out of the photo.

In Photoshop, you’ll want to enter Filter and select Correct Camera Distortion. In this menu, you’ll find options that are similar to Adobe Lightroom.

Within Photoshop, vignettes can be added in the following ways:

  • Camera Raw > Effects, which allows you to control highlights, roundness, midpoints, and feathering
  • You can fill a layer and add / invert a mask and use a feathered white brush to manually add your vignettes
  • Lastly, you can use the selection brush, create a new layer, filter, and correct camera distortion to create the vignetting effect.

How To Remove Vignettes From Photos

If you have vignetting in your photos and you want to remove it, your best bet is to use a photo editing software like Lightroom or Photoshop.

In the Develop module of Lightroom or the Camera RAW in Photoshop, you’ll want to click the Lens Correction module, enable Profile Corrections, and then use the slider to minimize the impact of the vignette in your photo.

Conclusion

In summary, vignettes can be used to create a variety of effects in your photos. They can be used to draw attention to the center of the frame or to add a bit of drama to the edges. Vignettes can also be used correct for lens distortion or vignetting that may have occurred while taking the photo.

When editing your photos, you can use photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom to add or remove vignettes. And if you want to remove vignettes from your photos, you can use the Lens Correction module in Lightroom or Photoshop to minimize their impact.